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Hernando County gets closer to re-implementing impact fees

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County commissioners took their first step Tuesday toward reinstating impact fees, but home builders and buyers won't see any changes for several months.

A divided commission voted to approve a new schedule of fees on new construction that would support parks, libraries, public buildings, emergency services and the sheriff, effective May 14. But after a brief break, Commissioner Jim Adkins, the swing vote in favor of the staff recommendation, asked for the board to reconsider the date of implementation.

Adkins pushed for more time so he could look more closely at the proposed fees and fine tune them further. He asked for implementation to be put off until Aug. 14.

Commissioner Diane Rowden, who made the motion to put the fees back in place, questioned the need for the delay. She had the support of Commission Chairman Dave Russell on the first motion; Russell urged Rowden to "vote your heart'' on the second motion by Adkins.

The motion to put off the fees until August was approved unanimously. The smaller components of the overall impact fee would add up to a $1,387 for a single-family home and would drop to $1,312 after Oct. 1 and the full consolidation of the county and Spring Hill fire-rescue departments.

By August, commissioners may have two other key and pricier components of the fees — a study to establish an updated transportation impact fee and, if the School Board moves forward, a study and recommendation on the school impact fee — according to Ron Pianta, the county's land services director.

In an effort to jump-start the stalled building industry, commissioners cut impact fees in half in 2009, then reduced them to zero the last two years. The fees, one-time levies on new construction, are designed to help pay for the infrastructure needed by new residents and businesses.

County staffers explained to the board how funds in the various impact fee categories had dwindled during the time that no fees were charged.

Rowden argued that counties such as Pasco and Citrus kept fees in place in recent years and their housing starts topped those in Hernando. But Commissioner Wayne Dukes said comparing other counties is like comparing apples to oranges because the real question was whether Hernando was growing.

On Jan. 22, commissioners will hear from their consultant studying transportation needs and preparing the new transportation impact fee. The School Board is also expected to get a recommendation on which of several consultants to choose to update the school impact fee.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

In other business

The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday:

• Elected Dave Russell as chairman for 2013. Commissioners also thanked outgoing Chairman Wayne Dukes for the year he served in the role. The new vice chairman is Jim Adkins; newly elected Commissioner Nick Nicholson was selected as second vice chairman. Russell noted that his father, David Russell Sr., had been named chairman of the commission 25 years ago, when the county government first occupied the new Hernando County Government Center.

• Unanimously approved a new organizational structure recommended by County Administrator Len Sossamon. Under the plan, county departments will be grouped under the management of four assistant administrators, who are expected to be promoted from within. Commissioners praised the plan while warning they didn't want to spend more money. Sossamon said whatever small pay increases some managers might receive would cost less than savings realized recently in Purchasing and Public Works.

• Put off until August a decision on increasing the communications tax charged on phone service in order to help pay for a new emergency radio system used by the sheriff and other county departments. Commissioner Jim Adkins asked for more information on whether there were other funds collected by the sheriff and other county departments that could help could offset some of the cost.

• Formally approved the ordinance consolidating the public safety division with the merger of the Hernando County and Spring Hill fire-rescue units, which takes effect Oct. 1. Commissioners also agreed to table any further talk regarding a referendum on a 1-cent sales tax to fund a portion of the consolidated service until later this summer, when they know better what the service will cost.

Hernando County gets closer to re-implementing impact fees 01/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 8:16pm]
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